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Ask the Experts
Spinal fractures are different than a broken arm or leg. A fracture or dislocation of a vertebra can cause bone fragments to pinch and damage the spinal nerves or spinal cord. Most spinal fractures occur from car accidents, falls, gunshot, or sports
Injuries can range from relatively mild ligament and muscle strains, to fractures and dislocations of the bony vertebrae, to debilitating spinal cord damage. Depending on how severe your injury is, you may experience pain, difficulty walking, or be unable to move your arms or legs (paralysis).
Symptoms of Spinal Fracture
Many people have evidence of spinal stenosis on an MRI or CT scan but may not have symptoms. When they do occur, they often start gradually and worsen over time.
- Pain that gets worse when you stand or walk but with some relief when you lie down.
- Trouble bending or twisting your body.
- Loss of height.
- A curved, stooped shape to your spine.
- Lifting a bag of groceries.
- Lifting a suitcase out of the trunk of a car
- Lifting the corner of a mattress when changing bed linens
Causes & Effects
The backbone (spine) runs from your neck to your lower back.
- The bones in your spinal column can break or collapse as a result of bone loss.
- Primary osteoporosis and menopause aren’t the only culprits when it comes to bone loss.
- Cancer, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hyperthyroidism, and long-term use of corticosteroids also cause loss of bone mass and increase your risk for fracture.
Spinal Fracture Treatments of Dr. Raviprakash
- One of the main purposes of the surgery is to remove the thing that is causing compression of the nerves in the spine, giving more space for the spinal canal and the nerves within (this is called lumbar decompression surgery, or laminectomy).
- The presence of instability, due to the removal of more than 50% of the facet joints or the underlying spondylolisthesis, usually requires stabilization with a fusion procedure (XLIF, TLIF, PLFI).
- Who undergo laminectomy can go back to their office job a few days after the surgery. Meanwhile, those who undergo spinal fusion are likely to be able to go back to work after a few weeks.
Even minor falls or trauma can produce a spine fracture. Many of these injuries will never require surgery, but major fractures can result in serious long-term problems unless treated promptly and properly.
Depending on how severe your injury is, you may experience pain, difficulty walking, or be unable to move your arms or legs (paralysis). Many fractures heal with conservative treatment; however severe fractures may require surgery to realign the bones.
Vertebral fractures usually take about three months to fully heal. X-rays will probably be taken monthly to check on the healing progress.
f left untreated, spinal fractures can lead to permanent spinal cord injury, nerve damage and paralysis. Types of spinal fractures are: Compression fracture: A compression fracture is usually caused by osteoporosis, a tumor or other abnormalities in the spine.
Sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees. This will decrease pressure on your back. You may also sleep on your side with 1 or both of your knees bent and a pillow between them. It may also be helpful to sleep on your stomach with a pillow under you at waist level.
- Trying pain relievers- Over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), naproxen (Aleve, others) and acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) can help reduce pain and inflammation.
- Applying hot or cold packs- Some symptoms of cervical spinal stenosis may be relieved by applying heat or ice to your neck.
- Maintaining a healthy weight- Aim to keep a healthy weight. If you're overweight or obese, your doctor may recommend that you lose weight.
- Exercising- Flexing, stretching and strengthening exercises may help open up the spine.
- Using a cane or walker- In addition to providing stability, these assistive devices can help relieve pain by allowing you to bend forward while walking.